• Thursday Jan 25, 2018

    Tigres’ Ayala on big 2018: “You have to be up for it”

    Hugo Ayala (pictured) has played every minute of Tigres’ three games to open the 2018 Liga MX season. (Photo: Mexsport)

    SAN NICOLAS DE LOS GARZA, Mexico - There is no doubt that 2018 will be a big year for many in Mexican football, especially Tigres' Hugo Ayala.

    The 30-year-old defender is part of one of Liga MX's top clubs and is seeking not only a second straight domestic league title, but also a first Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League (SCCL) crown after two straight runner-up finishes. There's also a possible spot on Mexico's roster for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

    On top of that, there is an 18-match home unbeaten streak (14W-4D-0L) in Liga MX play that UANL will look to continue Saturday against Pachuca - a rematch of the 2016/17 SCCL final.

    "Each match we try to come out to attack and win, regardless of playing home or away," said Ayala in a press conference Wednesday. "The stats show that we have 18 matches [unbeaten at the Estadio Universitario] and, hopefully, there are many more. We want to win all of the matches. We are aware that you have to work to seek improvement, no matter the result."

    With 37 caps under his belt, including seven appearances in CONCACAF qualifying for Russia 2018, Ayala hopes to stay on head coach Juan Carlos Osorio's radar.

    "It is a good year in all aspects," he finished. "You have to be up for it. If one does well, everyone is going to excel. The objective is to play well with Tigres and be able to win ourselves a spot in the World Cup."

    Ayala has appeared in 17 career World Cup Qualifying matches for Mexico, but has never played in the finals.

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